CORVALLIS, Ore. — Experience isn't the only advantage college basketball seniors enjoy.
They also get to savor that treasured college-student resource — sleep.
The Golden Bears (17-8, 9-4) hope to be a well-rested bunch tonight when they put first place in the Pac-10 on the line tonight at Oregon State (11-13, 5-7). Cal has five seniors on its roster, four of them starters, and all of them are on track to graduate this spring.
Small forward Theo Robertson, who already has the necessary credits to graduate, is taking only a PE class to meet the requirements of staying eligible for basketball.
Point guard Jerome Randle has three classes, but said, `My schedule is not hectic at all.''
Forward Jamal Boykin is closing out his academic career by taking a nutrition class and an online statistics course.
With fewer classroom demands, basketball benefits.
``It has a huge effect,'' Boykin said. ``A lot of times you almost have to make a decision as a student-athlete where your energy is going to go.''
With the finish line to his college career in sight, Boykin finds he has time for extra shooting practice, stretching, icing his body after workouts, eating right, additional sessions in the weight room, and getting to bed earlier.
``It's kind of sad. We only have five (regular-season) games left,'' he said. ``I want to make the most out of it, so I'm taking care of my body and doing all the things that add up game day.
``I just feel a lot stronger and I feel my body's recovering better.''
Boykin certainly was at his best last weekend, averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds in home victories over Washington and Washington State.
``He's been great,'' coach Mike Montgomery said. ``I don't know whether it's the weight-training routine . . . he has a lot of routines as far as what he does. He just feels better, his energy level is better.''
As the Bears strive for the school's first conference title in 50 seasons, energy level has been a good barometer for their performances.
``With us, it's understanding that less than our best is going to get us in trouble,'' Montgomery said. ``There's the key. It doesn't guarantee anything, but it goes a long way.
``We may have to win the rest of our games to win this thing. We're going out with that in mind.''
Tonight's game could be as difficult as any remaining on the schedule. Cal beat OSU 65-61 in Berkeley last month after the Beavers swept the series a year ago.
``We have a history with Oregon State, getting leads and them coming back on us,'' Boykin said.
The Beavers, coming off their first road win against Arizona in 28 years, lull opponents with a patient offense and a 1-3-1 zone defense. At 5-foot-8, Randle had 14 points but seven turnovers last month against 6-5 Seth Tarver, stationed at the top of the zone.
``I remember (OSU) coach Craig Robinson was telling one of their players, `Don't let that kid breathe.' I know I'm going to see a lot of that,'' said Randle.
Montgomery said the Beavers are especially tough defensively at the end of games, when they trap and become more aggressive.
``People are open,'' he said. ``You've just got to get the ball to them.''